My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Textual Transformations is a collection of chapter long essays dealing with diverse aspects of ‘textual transformations’, that is to say a certain form of ‘transforming’ of an original source text to something ‘other’ be that a mashup of Pride and Predjudice with Zombies, a sequel to Peter Pan, through to fanfiction based on the Chalet School series.
Of particular interest in this volume are chapters by Malini Roy, Lisa Migo, Nat Hurley and Maria Nikolajeva. Roy’s chapter focuses on the work of ‘Campfire’ – “the first (and probably only) graphic novels catering to young people in contemporary India” (p21). Migo discusses the route of the Chalet School series from “bookshelf to blogosphere and back again” (p73). Hurley’s chapter discusses the queering of Alice in Wonderland, discussing the reinterpretations of the Alice story with particular reference to Alan Moore’s ‘The Lost Girls’. Finally Maria Nikolajeva provides a closing chapter on the nature of “multivolume fiction for children” (p197), examining the motivations and rationale behind multi-volume publishing and the contradictory / complimentary nature of sequels to the original text.
There’s an issue with books of this in that, quite often, there’s a limit on how far contributors can go within such a limited space. This is something that happens all too often in this collection and I’d welcome more work from Roy and Migo. Roy’s chapter in particular is one of the most interesting in the entire book and I’d love more work from her on this. Her discussions of the nature of cultural memory and how the graphic novels published by Campfire were perpetuating a certain notion of this was fascinating.
I also wanted more from Migo’s chapter on the Chalet School as I felt this ended just as it was starting to becoming fascinating. In particular I’d welcome more work addressing the contradictory nature of the Chalet School fandom whereby a fan can appreciate both the brilliance and the banalities of the original series without losing their love for the series as a whole. (And on a separate note, I repeatedly have a yen to collate a fan journal of Chalet School critique by some of the excellent bloggers I read due to the acuity of their work and also because of the scarcity of academic literature discussing the series)